The contents of this story are purely fictional, and the content of this story includes love between male teens. If this is not what you expected, or it is illegal for you to read this material because of the laws governing your area, then don't read it! This story is copyrighted by the author and may not be reproduced or published elsewhere without the author's permission. Please direct your comments and questions to

Again, please let me know if you're reading etc., I'd love to hear from ya! That's the only form of payment we `net authors get out of this deal...

Author's note:

Given that we are now pretty deep into the story, I wanted to make note of something that has come out in some of my e-mail correspondence with a few of you readers, and to add a little contextual info for this chapter. Aside from the obvious, the title of the story is also intended to have multiple meanings. Yes, the story does move along pretty fast, and the characters even note to themselves their own surprise at the pace of events. It was always my intention to portray just a brief slice out of the life of the main characters (but with some glimpses of both the past and the future for context...); one of those periods that everyone seems to encounter at some point in their life, when everything can change so very quickly, and things can get totally turned upside down in an instant, and seemingly without warning. Times like this tend to bring out the truest nature of those involved, and illustrate just how much things can change with one simple action or decision made in a single short moment, one that can change the course of an entire lifetime. In hindsight, I have often regretted in my own life that these brief little intersections we encounter with fate along the way (and usually without warning) can make such a huge impact on our future. Everything seems to boil down to a few choice seconds, within a few brief opportunities, to get it all right. A very `short game' indeed, so to speak.

As far as the story goes, another character, Jeff Carpenter, returns. You may recall he appeared only briefly in the opening prologue. I didn't want to confuse anyone, but again I wanted to emphasize how suddenly and completely events can change things in one's life, and how a lot of things/people often seem to get left behind. So, from here on out, Ricky & Lance are going to need to spend some time reconciling their new life with the old, and Jeff is one first step in that process. We've already had some glimpses of the boys past lives, and now we will get a foreshadowing of the future as well in this chapter.

I've had a bit of fun in naming all the previous chapters, and it was pretty easy to think them up, so far. But, this chapter was by far the hardest to name. So, with a nod to the Beatles...tell me what you think. Maybe y'all can do better...

Chapter 7: Come together...

Lance held me as best he could, his cheek resting on top of my head as I cried on his chest. I was scared out of my mind at this point. I just can't believe everyone knew about us now! Everyone at mom...Shit! What are we gonna do? How are we gonna live like this, now? Is everyone gonna hate us? Maybe even try and kill us like poor Matthew Shepard? As afraid as I was, I also couldn't understand what difference it could possibly make to anyone else on this stupid rock exactly who I loved, and who loved me. Still, it hurt so much inside just to think about all that. Why was I so afraid of them? Why were they so afraid of us? Fuck! I needed to get my mind on something else before I went crazy, here.

I inhaled deeply, and smelled my favorite boyfriend. My mind easily slipped back into its favorite place, as I thought about Lance. "Babe," I said, "please don't think I could ever get mad at you for that. You just did what you had to do. I know it was very hard for you to say those things, and that shows me just how much you care about me. But, I already knew that, Lancer. I know how much you love me, and it means a lot to me. You know that."

"Ya, I know Ricky. Me too babe," he smiled weakly, lifting up his head to look at me.

"Well...we sure can't change what's already happened, so I guess that isn't worth worrying about now. But, what are we gonna do at school? How am I gonna face my mom? I'm scared Lance. I'm really scared," I sighed.

From the chair in the corner of the room, I heard Mr. Bill clear his throat. "I hope you boys don't mind me butting in here, but maybe I can help. As far as school goes Rick, I expect you to resume your regular schedule as soon as your doctor allows. Lance will be going back tomorrow, of course."

"But..." Lance began, and Mr. Bill silenced him with his hand.

"Both of you, just listen to me for a sec. I've already met with all the sports teams and coaches this afternoon, and we will have an assembly for the entire student body first thing tomorrow morning. And, no Lance, you don't have to go to that," he chuckled. "I have tried to make it crystal clear to everyone what our school policy is, regarding this whole matter. Threats of violence, or verbal attacks based on race or sexuality, will not be tolerated at all, period. I also reminded them that if they crossed that line, not only did they risk being kicked out of school or sports, but also being charged with a criminal offense, if the situation called for it. It's my job to guarantee that you boys can both attend school and play sports without any threats or intimidation, and I promise I will do my absolute best. Unfortunately, there were no other witnesses to independently verify the threats Brent made. I do believe you guys though, don't worry. But, until someone does something that we can verify with a witness, there's nothing else we can do."

"So..." I asked, "We just go back to school like nothing happened? You gotta be fuckin' kidding me, man!"

"Well, Rick," he replied, "Maybe you're right. Perhaps it won't be exactly that simple," he smiled at my choice use of language. "But, I think how you two react will set the tone for everyone else. If you just act like yourselves, and don't make a big deal of it, I think the whole thing will pass pretty quickly. It is important for them to realize that you are the same two people they knew before this happened, and that nothing has changed with you. Now, they just know something new about you, that's all. If anyone does threaten you or verbally harass you, I expect to hear about it right away. I will handle it from there, got it?"

I nodded, and then looked at Lance. "What do you think, Lancer? You've already been through this bullshit once before."

"Well, I think Bill is right, more or less," he began. "Last year, I think I felt kinda like I was the one who did something wrong, and I expected people to hate me and react badly towards me, and they did. Maybe that had something to do with it. But more than that, I've had a long time now to decide how I feel about who I am, and I'm not gonna apologize to anybody or feel guilty about it any more. I love the sweetest, cutest boy on the planet, and frankly I don't give a crap what anyone else thinks about it," he said with a laugh, smiling that smile he saves just for me. "But," he said, "right now I'm a little more worried about you, babe. If I do decide to play on the golf team, I just hope they don't try to get back at me by goin' after you, Ricky."

Hmmm. That was something to think about, too...

"Well, Ricky?" Lance asked seriously. "How do you feel about all this? Do you think you can handle that? I know it sounds a bit scary, but it got easier for me after a little while. And, we'll be doin' it together babe, don't worry."

"Fuck," I said, "I've been living with all their stupid insults and crap for years; that don't mean anything to me. As long as you can promise me that nobody can touch us... which is something new at school, as far as I'm concerned," I stated, giving Mr. Bill a hard look, "I don't care what the hell they say. But, if anyone hurts Lance though, I'm gonna kill `em--personally!"

"RICK!" said Mr. Bill, "I don't want to hear talk like that!"

"I'm sorry, but you know what I mean," I said with a frown.

"On school grounds, I will do my absolute best to make sure you two are safe. But, you guys do need to think about how you're gonna handle things outside of school. This is Riverside County, and half the folks you meet around town are gonna be of the redneck variety. You guys do need to learn to be careful, and choose your spots. Don't go out alone if you can help it, and keep a cell phone handy in case you need it. Lance has his own car, so that should make things a lot easier too."

"Honestly, I think I can take care of myself pretty good," Lance said, "and as long as Ricky and I stay together, I think I can handle it. One thing you don't know about me, babe," he said, looking down at me, "is that I have about 5 years of TaeKwon-Do. Corey and I took it together, because our golf teacher thought it would be good training for balance, strength, coordination and mental discipline type stuff. But personally, I chose TaeKwon-Do because it is defensive only in its purest form; and I will only use it as necessary to defend myself, or someone I love," he said, smiling at me. "I have not, nor will I ever, use it to harm someone purposely, or in an offensive manner. I took an oath about that, and I'm always good to my word," he said, giving me a meaningful look.

"One more thing to consider guys," said Mr. Bill. "Before you get ready to start taking on the world, here," he chuckled. "You two just might be surprised. You'll find out pretty quickly who your true friends really are. And, I think you'll find more of `em out there than you might expect. This is the twenty-first century ya know," he laughed, "some people aren't as culturally backwards as they might look."

I stared out the window in silence for a while. When I looked back at Lance, and I could see the love and concern in his eyes. I can see he really is worried about me. "C'mere, Aussie boy, you look like you need a hug right now about as much as I do."

I looked across the room at Mr. Bill, and he gave me a reassuring smile. Lance laid his head down on my left shoulder, and wrapped his arm gently across my chest. We stayed like that for a few minutes, while I stroked his back with my left hand, and kissed him on the top of his head. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to rest for a moment, as I inhaled the sweet smell of him.

But, my restful little moment didn't last very long. I heard two quick taps on the door as it swung open, and my mom appeared at the foot of my bed.

"Mom!...uh ...uh...hi." I said meekly.

I felt Lance stiffen a little bit in my arms, and he slowly lifted himself up and sat back in his chair, combing his fingers nervously through his hair.

Mr. Bill quickly stood up from the chair where he had been sitting, and approached the center of the room. "Hi Linda, the boys and I have been expecting you," he said, giving her a look that was obviously intended to tell her that I had been informed what she knew about us.

"Hi Bill. Thanks again for all your help this morning. Hello, Lance," she said neutrally. She surveyed the room with her eyes, stopping briefly on all three of us. When she came to me, she paused for a second; giving me a look I still couldn't quite read. "So, how are you feeling, bud? Sounds like you did some pretty serious damage to your arm, there. I'm really sorry to hear that you'll miss out on the golf team. I know how hard you were working to make it this year."

"Uh, I...I, uh...I guess you're right. I haven't really thought about that too much. hasn't really sunk in yet." I looked nervously out the window for a second, while I gathered my reserves. I looked briefly at Lance, and he gave me a slight nod. "So, uh and Lance have already met, then?" I asked without looking her in the eyes. I just couldn't bring myself to do that, at the moment.

"Yes, we met earlier this afternoon. I also met Lance's mother this morning. She and I had a long talk..." she said, keeping a very calm and neutral tone to her voice; still successfully hiding from me whatever it was that she was feeling at the moment.

"Uh...ya, so I heard," I said nervously.

Mr. Bill jumped in, "Maybe Lance and I should go down the hall and grab a soda, and give you two a chance to talk."

"NO!" I said, a little too loudly. "I really want you both to stay. Please?" I asked giving them a pleading look.

"Well," my mom said, "I think maybe it would be good if we could just talk by ourselves for a minute, son."

I didn't really want to be pushed on this, and my frustration started to creep to the surface. "Look mom, I really want them both to stay here. I don't have anything to say that they don't already know," I said firmly.

"Rick..." she started, giving me one of her patented `parental looks,' hoping to get me to back down.

"What the fuck do you want from me, mom?" I said in exasperation, starting to loose control of the waterworks. "You wanna try and get me alone so you can rag on me for a while? Tell me I'm not really gay? Just going through some stupid phase? Tell me how disappointed you are in me? Maybe convince me that I really don't love Lance more than anything in the world?" I yelled. "Well, your perfect little boy is a fag! So, just deal with it," I said angrily. I turned my head and looked out the window again, with tears streaming silently down my face; still holding onto Lance's hand for dear life.

"Ricky..." Lance said quietly, with a pleading look, "Please don't call yourself that."

"I agree with Lance about that, son. And, I'm sorry you feel that way," she said. "I didn't intend for you to be threatened by our conversation. If it's that important to you, they can stay if they want to. I didn't come here to do any of those things, so try and take it down a notch, ok? Lance's mom said some things that really made me think this morning, and I've spent all day sorting out how I feel about this. At first it was a little upsetting to me, yes. But I eventually had to admit to myself that you couldn't change who you are, being gay, any more than you could change the color of your eyes. I realize I just have to accept that you were born that way, and I want you to know that I still love and respect you as a person as much as I always have. Hell, Rick, I've always been so proud of you because you always seem to have everything figured out in your life. It felt sometimes like you were 30 years old the day you were born...always the `little professor.' You never seemed to really need a mother; you always took care of yourself first. But, don't think that I never cared about you. You never came to me for things, and I know how much you needed your independence. You needed to feel separated from all the awful stuff happening at home in order to feel safe. I thought I was doing the right thing for you, giving you that. I guess along the way, I missed knowing you as well as I really wanted to, and I regret that a lot, son. But, I do know you well enough to know this is not something you would just do on a whim. You never do anything you aren't totally sure about. So, no--I don't doubt how you feel about Lance. I don't doubt your commitment to each other. From what I can see, and from what I've heard from Lance's mom, you two seem to be very good for each other. Sure, it makes me a little sad to think that your life will probably be a lot harder than it should rightfully be from now on. Of course, I'm gonna worry about you...not that I need something new to worry about; but, I am your mother, after all," she said with a little smile. "I promise I will help you two any way I can. Just give me some time to get used to this, ok?"

"Oh, jeez. I'm sorry, mom," I said flatly. "I feel like a such an ass. I had no right to go off on you like that. But, I was just so scared...I was scared of losing you too, mom. You're all I have left, and I don't want to lose you too." I paused for a moment to wipe away my tears. "I really, really appreciate that you're trying to accept who we are and how we feel about each other." I looked out the window again, thinking to myself for a moment, as the room remained silent.

"Mom, give me another chance here, please? I wanna just rewind and start this conversation all over again, ok?" Ahemmm...I closed my eyes briefly, and took a deep breath. "Mom? I have somebody I want you to meet. I really think you're gonna like him. He's the nicest, cutest, awesome-est person I've ever met in my whole life. I really, really love him mom--I can't even begin to tell you how much. I would do anything in the world for him, and I plan on being together with him for the rest of my life; if he'll have me, that is," I said looking deeply into Lance's eyes. "So,, this is my boyfriend, Lance."

"Nice to meet you, Lance," said my mom, with a tear in her eye, reaching out her hand.

"Thank you, Mrs. Williams, same here," said Lance, taking her hand. "I just want to thank you too, for having such a wonderful son. I don't know where I would be right now without him in my life; I don't even really wanna think about it. I love him too, ya know. More than anything..." he said tearfully, as he looked down at me with his special smile, that was reserved only for me.

I couldn't help it, I just had to reach up to him with my good arm, and pull him down to me for a quick kiss.

"Well, ok then," my mom said, sounding pretty drained, and trying hard not to notice we were kissing. "I'm sure we'll all have time to get to know each other a little better real soon. Is there anything you need from home, Rick? Lance's mom said you would probably be in here until Wednesday, and then resting at home until Monday, when you can go back to school if everything still looks ok. I can stop by on my way to work tomorrow morning, and bring you anything you like. I know you will need a set of clothes to come home in, at least."

I gave my mom a short list of things, and Mr. Bill said he would help Lance with getting me my schoolbooks and reading assignments for the week. I think we're gonna have to put off doing anything that requires writing for now...I'm so totally fucking useless with my left hand, I don't even think I can whack off left handed! Hmmm. Wait a minute; that could really be a serious problem here, now that I think about it...

Mr. Bill and my mom left together, leaving Lance and I alone again in the room. I'm sure they have more to talk about, if I know him.

"C'mere Lancer," I said with a grin, "I haven't had nearly enough lovin' from you yet." Lance sat down close to my left side, and my hand reached out automatically for his big snake.

"Down boy!" laughed Lance, pushing my hand away from his crotch. "Maybe I better call the nurse; I think the pain is making you delirious again. It must be time for your next shot."

"Lancer, come on..." I pouted, giving him the saddest puppy-dog eyes I could muster. But, I have to admit that the morphine does make you feel pretty wasted at times--that is when I'm even awake!

"I think we need to wait until we have a little more privacy for that, babe," Lance said softly. "I think your dinner will be here soon anyway, and we don't want to spoil your appetite, now do we?" he smiled.

I just grinned at him, and licked my lips suggestively. "Ok, then, just sit with me for a while. I don't wanna let you out of my sight just yet. It's gonna be hard enough when you have to go home," I said with a pout.

Lance reached his hand out and gently squeezed my obvious erection, which was lewdly poking straight up under the sheets. "I think it's hard enough already, mate!" he said with a giggle.

"Dammit Lance! Don't be such a fuckin' tease! Knock it off," I sputtered.

"You, what?" he asked with a devilish smile.

"You ..." I sighed, giving up. "You are just gonna have to kiss me now, ya know, to make up for that..." I replied hopefully.

"Good thing for you I know CPR," Lance said, grinning back at me, as he leaned over and gave me the longest, sexiest kiss I've had since our shower together this morning. God, had it been that long? Well, it had been a very unusual day, I thought to myself dryly.

I looked up and noticed Lance gazing down at me thoughtfully, with a smile. "What, babe?" I asked.

"I reckon things worked out pretty good in the end with yer mum, aye? And, you said some awfully nice things about me," he smiled. "I still do, you know."

"Huh?" I asked, pulling up the blanket in an effort to cover my still very serious wood. "You do, what?"

"Like I told you before, Ricky. I promise I'll never leave you. I know we're meant to be together, I can just feel it in my heart; I don't know how else to describe it. I want to be with you for the rest of my life too, in forever. I love you more than life itself; don't ever doubt that, ok?" he said, looking at me with love overflowing in his eyes. "For just one split-second this morning, I realized that I might actually lose you. It was such a terrifying thought, I...I..." he shivered involuntarily as he hesitated..."Well, I just don't think I could live without you, little guy. Don't ever do anything like that again, please?" he begged.

"God, I'm so sorry Lancer," I sniffed, fighting back the tears again. "I feel so stupid. I don't know why I did that. I was just so mad...I really just lost my head, like they say. But, the idea of them doing that to you was just sooo unfair, and the thought of anyone hurting you...well, it was just way too much for me to deal with."

"I know, Ricky," he said softly. "I think we both feel the same way. We just express it in different ways. I guess I'm a lover, and you're a fighter," he laughed. "But, we are gonna have to work on that temper of yours, mate."

"Ya," I said. "Get in line. Mr. Bill's been on my ass about that for years. But, don't worry. I think I got it out of my system for a while," I laughed weakly.

There was a knock on the door, and dinner appeared on the tray in front of me. I lifted the cover off the biggest plate, and immediately made a sour face when the smell reached my nose. I looked at Lance, and grimaced. "Hospital food," we both said in unison, as we cracked up laughing together.

Unfortunately, I started to realize just how hungry I really was, not having eaten since early this morning. Hmmm. Well, the jello looked edible, at least.

Lance stood up. "Be right back, Ricky," he said smiling, as he slipped out the door. I ate my lime jello in silence, lost in my thoughts for a few moments. By the time I had made my way through the jello and the canned peaches (which took a bit longer than normal, since I had to do it left-handed...), Lance returned and closed the door carefully. He pulled the privacy curtain around my bed, completely surrounding us.

He set a cold can of soda on my tray. "Thought you might like something special to drink, Ricky. And," he said with a sexy grin, "I asked the nurse if we could have a few moments of privacy. I told her your favorite TV show was on," he said with a laugh.

I grinned back at him.

"So, Ricky, my love...what would you like for your dessert?" he asked, raising his eyebrows suggestively.

I silently reached my left arm around his waist and pulled him closer to me, still standing. I gently traced the outline of his long shaft with my fingers, watching it grow rapidly in length and thickness. I looked up at him and grinned again, licking my lips, as I ran my hand under his shirt and across his flat stomach. I had a little trouble negotiating the buttons and zippers with one hand, so Lance was kind enough to lower his shorts and boxers, freeing the monster for me. Fortunately, as I lay propped up in my bed, my head was at the perfect level to see eye to eye with his big snake. I caressed his hardness lightly with my hand, occasionally fondling his big smooth balls. When I saw the first big drop of pre-cum appear on the head, I pulled him closer and licked it off. As soon as my tongue touched his dick, it immediately drove me crazy. I frantically began licking, sucking, and nibbling on everything I could get my lips and tongue on. God, I loved his huge dick so much! It turned me on more than anything I had ever known. I ran my hand up and down his shaft as my tongue continued to work every bit of the top half of his length. When I felt Lances fingers running through my hair, I looked up at him and our eyes connected.

"Oh god, Ricky," he panted, looking down into my eyes. "You make me feel sooo good when you do that...God, I love you so much, babe."

I continued to suck him greedily, as I smiled around his thick shaft.

"Fuck, Ricky; you're gonna make me cum so hard...Mmmmmm...I can feel it, babe. I feel like my dick is just gonna explode pretty soon, you're getting' me so bloody hard. Mmmmmm...Mmmmm...Oh, God Ricky...I'm gonna shoot such a huge load in your mouth...Ohhhhhhh fuck, it feels so good, Ricky...Unngghhhhhhhh!" he moaned out, as he threw his head back. He grabbed the back of my head with both his hands as he thrust his huge member deep into my mouth. Six or seven huge rockets of cum fired right down the back of my throat. Didn't spill a drop this time! I thought to myself proudly.

Lance was still breathing hard, as he ran his hands ran lovingly through my hair. I continued to nurse on him as he slowly softened, and was rewarded with a few more small strands of his juice. I kept his soft tool in my mouth, determined to make love to it with my tongue and my lips as long as I possibly could. But, pretty soon Lance pulled away. "Sorry, babe. That's getting a little too tender there. I think I better put him away now," he said apologetically.

"That was so cool, Lancer," I said with a huge grin. "I just love getting you so hard and so hot. It makes me feel really sexy when I do that. I just love that huge snake of yours."

"So I see, Ricky," Lance giggled, as he put himself away and buttoned up his shorts. He looked down towards the white sheet covering my lap. I followed his gaze down, and laughed as I saw a huge wet spot in the center of the sheet. Since it was wet, it had become totally transparent, and the head of my still erect member was clearly visible.

"Maybe I can take care of your little problem there, love," Lance suggested with a grin.

"Uh, sorry babe, but I think it's too late for that," I said blushing in embarrassment.

"Oh...Hey now, don't worry about that." He sat down on the edge of the bed, hugged me to him, and gave me a kiss. "I think it's sooo cute how turned on you get when you're making me feel good. When I see that, when I see in your eyes how much you love making me feel good, my heart just feels like it's gonna explode, I love you so much," he said kissing me again. "Krikes, you're getting awful good at that too, Ricky. You made me cum so hard, my nuts still hurt! But," he grinned, "next time it's my turn to make you feel that good, ok love?"

"Ya, ok," I smiled. "I just love you so much, Lance, I can't help myself."

After that, we actually did sit down and watch TV for a little while, holding hands as Lance sat in the chair beside my hospital bed. "What was that, babe?" I asked. "I thought I heard a knock on the door." Straining my ears, I could swear I heard it again faintly. "Hey," I called out, "Come on in, if somebody's out there."

The door barely peeked open, and a bit of long curly strawberry blond hair, one green eye, and a little button nose surrounded by freckles came into view.

"Jeff, dude!" I said in surprise. "Get in here, man! Thanks for comin' to see me."

The guilt hit me immediately like a ton of bricks. Jeff Carpenter was the closest thing I'd ever had to a real friend before I met Lance (and I still don't think it's quite the same thing as having a boyfriend, really...), and I hadn't talked to him much since I met Lance last week. I mean, we never saw each other or talked outside of school, but since we were in so many classes together we hung a lot during the day, at lunch, etc. We'd known each other since elementary school, and we'd been together in all the same `gifted' classes since, it seemed like, forever; and he was the only person at school I could ever really talk to about anything. I guess my mind had been somewhere else lately...duh.

I really liked Jeff. He was totally cute; but you know, like, `little brother' cute. He was even a year younger than me (and I was younger than just about everyone in my year...), since he had skipped a grade in elementary school. Nobody I had ever met along the way had been nicer to me, or was more sincere and caring than Jeffy; and, I had absolutely no doubt that the boy was an absolute genius. People called me a brain and teased me about it; but compared to Jeff, I knew I was a complete retard. He was also, perhaps, the only kid I knew in school who was actually smaller than me, but he was younger. He was also a little frail looking, and not very athletic. I had always thought his longish, curly, strawberry blond hair was so cool looking, but it also seemed to make him more of a target for the assholes at school. It made me so goddam mad when they picked on him sometimes, I just wanted to...well, let's not go there right now. Karen said I should keep my blood pressure down for a few days. Last year, he finally had to get excused from PE altogether, because the assholes just wouldn't leave him alone since he didn't have any hair yet on his little 13-year-old dicklet...I mean, how cruel can you get?

As he approached the end of my bed, Jeff said "Uh...hey Ricky. I...uh...just wanted to see how you were doin' and stuff. I...uh...well, I was kinda worried about you, and...well, uh...I wanted to see, uh..." he said, looking at Lance in total shock and amazement.

"Come on, Jeffster. Relax," I said. "It's me, remember? Have a seat here on the end of the bed. And don't worry; you don't have to's true, ok? I'm sorry you had to hear about it that way. If there was anyone at school I could have told, it would've been you, buddy. We just haven't had a chance to talk since Friday. So, yes I'm gay; and yes, Lance here is my boyfriend. I know it all happened pretty fast, and I don't think you've met him yet. But, I know you'll like him, Jeffy. I think he's a pretty awesome guy," I smiled.

"Good ta meet ya, Jeff," Lance said, sticking out his hand with his usual grin. "Lance McGann here."

"Uh, hey...nice to meet you, uh... too," Jeff said, looking at Lance shyly and blushing like crazy.

I spoke up again, to break Jeff's painful silence. "Jeff, it's really nice of you to come by and visit me, and I really appreciate it, man. You're about the only person I consider a friend around here, besides the Aussie stud boy there. And Jeff, we go back a long ways together, right? I hope you're ok with all this. You are, aren't you? I mean, I really don't want to lose you as a friend, Jeffy," I said tearfully.

"Ya, uh...its cool Ricky. I'm...uh, I'm ok with that." Jeff replied, blushing again. He sat there for a while on the end of the bed in silence, looking down into his hands folded on his lap. Eventually, he had to reach up and wipe a tear out of his eye, and I noticed then that he was crying.

"Jeffy?" I said in surprise. "What's the matter? Why are you crying?"

"Oh man, Ricky..." he said shakily, still half sobbing as he spoke. "Well, I guess I'm just really happy for you that you found someone like Lance--I mean, he's so handsome, and so nice...and...and...I can tell how much you love him, the way you guys just sit there holding hands and looking at each other and stuff...God, you're just so lucky, Ricky!" he said tearfully. "Sometimes I just wonder if I'll ever be as lucky as you get such a cool boyfriend who loves me and stuff... and I guess I'm a little jealous...but it just makes me kinda sad to think that I'll never have..."

"Jeff!" I said. "Take it easy, there. Slow down a second. Are you trying to tell me that you're gay too?"

"Well, ya Ricky. But, I thought you already knew that..." Jeff said, with a confused look on his face. "I mean, I've had such a crush on you since I was, like, 10 years old, Ricky! But, eventually I realized that you didn't like me that way. It's ok, though; I understand. I know you like me as a friend, and you feel kinda like my big brother sometimes. I will always have a special place in my heart for you Ricky, but I understand that you're not the one who's meant for me. I'm ok with that. I got over it a long time ago," he said wistfully.

"Oh man, Jeffy...c'mere," I said, tears running down my face, as I pulled him into a big hug with my one good arm. "I love you too Jeffy...just not that way, like you said. But I really, really care about you, and I always will, ok?" I asked, as I could feel the warmth of his tears on my shoulder, as he nodded yes. I looked over to see Lance giving me an understanding smile, while giving Jeff a pat on the back too.

"You'll find somebody, mate. Don't worry," Lance said. "You just gotta have patience, and have some faith, Jeff. That's how I found my angel, here. And believe me, I know exactly how lucky I am," he said, giving me a sincere smile.

As Jeff and I shared our long overdue hug, something else occurred to me. "Jeffy," I asked, "you knew I was gay a long time ago, didn't you?"

He sat up and wiped his eyes again. "Well, ya Ricky..." he said, again with a confused look on his face, like it shouldn't be any big news to me.

"Uuaaagh! Why the hell didn't anyone bother to tell me that I was gay, for cryin' out loud?" I laughed, giving Jeffy another big hug.

The three of us sat and talked for a while longer, with Jeff managing to get a little more comfortable with things, and beginning act more like his usual cute and smart as hell self. But, eventually, the nurse shooed Lance and Jeff out for the night, and they left for home.

I decided to watch TV for a minute until they came in to shoot me up again, so I clicked on the golf channel. Oops! Big mistake. After a while, I found myself just sitting there ignoring the TV, looking at my fucked up arm, and starting to cry again. Sure, maybe the morphine had something to do with my mood swings today...but, golf had been my refuge; my place that I could always go and get away from whatever was bothering me for a while. A place where nobody could fuck with me. A place where I could compete on an even footing with anyone else, for the first time in my life. And now, where I could compete side by side with Lance. But, right now that seemed very, very far away.

But, gradually my thoughts turned to Lance. He would still be playing, of course, and he would still need me there to support him, I knew. my mind was digesting that thought for a moment, my imagination escaped and ran loose again as it's been known to do sometimes (well, ok; maybe more than just `sometimes'...). I soon found myself drifting along in an amazing, extremely vivid, kinda semi-daydream (must be the morphine, again...).

We stood together on the tee, surveying the 18th hole, which lay before us. "We're at 13 now, Lance," I said. "If we can post 14 in the clubhouse, I don't think there's any fuckin' way even he can catch us then."

Lance looked up at me with his usual cockeyed grin. "No worries, babe. Let's go with the driver, aye?"

Conventional wisdom said that the driver was always the most dangerous club in the bag, especially with the tournament on the line. But not for the Aussie boy wonder, here. I think he hits that damn thing straighter than any other club he owns. And, just to prove me right (as always--thanks babe!), he pounded it right down the gut, 300 yards out, center cut.

Lance walked just beside me, as we made our way up the middle of the beautiful fairway, with a view of the ocean to one side. "What ya got there, Ricky?" I heard Lance ask, as I was studying the yardage book in my hand, and comparing it with what I was seeing in front of me.

I looked up the fairway towards a green surrounded by grandstands, filled with hundreds of people. It was the final hole at Torrey Pines South, a course I'd had the pleasure of playing a few times before. "145 to the stick, a little uphill, wind hurting a bit from the left," I replied. "I'm not sure..." I thought out loud. "Maybe an easy 8...or a hard 9?"

"Dunno if I can turn the 8 against the wind if ease up on it too much," he said thoughtfully.

"Alright, then; hard 9, with a slight draw. Knock it down a little, to keep it out of the wind. Don't worry about going a little past this flag. I think we'd rather be past it, than short of it, ok babe?" I said, handing him his 9-iron.

The crowd roared in appreciation as Lance's shot came flying in to the green, landing to the right of the hole, bouncing forwards a few feet, and spinning to the left; finishing directly behind the flag.

Lance gave me a quick grin, as we headed off towards the green again, walking side by side. He handed me his 9-iron, which I dutifully cleaned off and put back into his golf bag, which I was carrying on my back. I waited as he took off his golf glove, then handed Lance his putter. Even though I was the one carrying his golf bag, I knew we were a team. Just two different pieces of the same puzzle. We were doing this together.

Lance looked over to me with his trademark smile and said, "Thanks, Ricky. I think we got everything spot on that time: the yardage, the shot, the club: all just perfect, babe. You're the best," he said, with his love apparent in his eyes.

We approached the green to thundering applause, as Lance politely tipped his hat and waved to the crowd. I set down the bag, and walked with Lance as he marked his ball and surveyed his birdie putt from about 15 feet away. After we had looked at it from all different angles, he asked me, "So, Ricky; what'ya think?"

"Well," I answered, "a little downhill, but mostly against the grain. It won't be quite as fast as it looks. I think it's pretty straight, but as soon as it slows down, it'll turn towards the ocean...maybe 6 inches outside the left edge."

"Ya, that sounds about right to me too, mate," he replied, looking over my shoulder as I squatted down to get a better look at the line.

We stood up, and moved to the edge of the green, waiting for the other player to putt first. We had plenty of time. This other guy had been lulling everyone to sleep all day long with his `deliberate' style of play. In other words, it was a nice way of saying he played slower than a fuckin' old lady...

"Lance, look at me" I whispered to him, looking in his eyes, "You're gonna make this! This is your dream, babe. You're gonna win your first PGA tournament today, right here. Right now. Just believe it, Lancer! You've been making this putt all day long. Just set it up and make your normal stroke. Feel the hole pull it in, babe. And remember, I love you more than anything in the world..." I said earnestly.

He gave me his incredible smile; the one that he saves just for me at special times like this, as he walked over to his mark and carefully replaced his ball. The crowd was deafeningly silent now, as he went through his set up routine. He looked so calm, so confident, and so handsome, as he stood there in front of thousands of fans and countless millions of television viewers! I, on the other hand, was a total mess inside. My heart was pounding in my ears, my mouth was completely dry, and my legs were shaking slightly. It seemed like I was watching in super-slow-motion, as his putter moved slowly back away from the ball, and gently down again with perfect control and precise direction. Every last pair of eyes present around the green followed his ball, as it rolled towards the hole. It seemed to take forever, as the ball gradually neared the hole. I held my breath as it slowed dramatically and swung abruptly to the right. The ball hesitated briefly, as it reached the edge of the hole. My heart stopped beating, as I quickly looked to see Lance stalking towards the hole, his eyes focused like lasers on the ball, just daring it not to go in. As the ball fell...agonizingly...slowly...into the hole, the crowd absolutely thundered in applause. Lance turned in my direction, pumping his fist, as he gave me a smile like no other. I'm glad he was looking my way, because I had already flung my hat into the air, taken a few quick steps in his direction, and launched myself towards him, leaping into his waiting arms. He hugged me to him tightly, and I could feel the moisture of his tears on my neck. I pulled my head off his shoulder and gave him the longest kiss I could manage at the moment; in front of the whole goddam was sooo awesome! Lance set me down in front of him, and put both his hands on my shoulders. Then, for a few brief moments, it was only just the two of us there, standing on that green, seemingly alone. Nothing else existed around us. He leaned in real close, looking me right in the eyes as our foreheads touched together. I could still see the moisture in the corners of his eyes. "We did it, Ricky," he said to me. "We did it."

"Ya," I said, tears streaming down my face, "We did."